Dr. Florence Garcia, alumna
City College associate dean
Wolf Point, MT
BA secondary education, ’74; MA special education ’80; PhD higher education, ‘99
By Cassie Winter, University Relations and Communications Intern
As a sophomore in high school, Garcia was among the first recipients of the Upward Bound program. She spent six weeks away from her home in Wolf Point to attend a summer camp at Eastern Montana College. The Upward Bound summer camp was the beginning of her journey to college.
“Upward Bound came in at the very perfect time for me. I always thought high school was the finish line. But, Upward Bound changed that and opened so many doors for me in terms of experiencing the world.”
Founded in 1964, Upward Bound is one of TRiO’s several college access programs that open doors for students who are low-income or first-generation.
Garcia faced the many disadvantages that often prevent high school students from having access to higher education, such as poverty and being a first-generation college student.
“The home and community I come from provided me with a sense of spirit and culture, both values that are amazing gifts. But there were also challenges that existed there, such as alcohol abuse, poverty, and health problems that affect Native people at a disproportionately higher rate.”
Despite these challenges, her parents provided the much-needed moral support she needed to go to college. Although they didn’t have college degrees themselves, her parents valued education and the opportunities it can bring.
“They saw how education could change people’s lives. Education is very stable. School is always constant and predictable.”
Since receiving her first of three degrees in 1974, she has worked as a teacher, a dean of student services, and, most recently before joining City College, served for two years as the president of Fort Peck Community College.
And, her connection to Upward Bound has never wavered. She served as TRiO Student Support Services director at both MSU and MSUB as well as at Dawson Community College during her career. In 1984, she was named a National TRiO Achiever.
“I’m sure I would not be here if it weren’t for Upward Bound. In fact, I might not be here at all”